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December 8, 2016

El Camino

I stumbled upon this place online when I was looking for a place still taking bookings for dinner last Saturday. I think it's only a couple of months old. It serves tex-mex food and sounded reasonably priced despite being in The Rocks, so we went to check it out.

It's massive (several big rooms) and has funky decor.

The menus come as a vinyl in a cover! This place also has unlimited free corn chips and dip.

I had three tacos. The steak and fish weren't that great (my gold standard fish taco is at Barrio Cellar). The al pastor taco is the only one I'd get again. My friends were happy with their quesadillas and enchiladas.

Massive frozen margaritas which are really good, not too sour. I would come back here for these and the free corn chips! Might be a good happy hour haunt.

So this is the last post you're getting from me in real-time for the rest of the year! I'm leaving on my trip tomorrow, and I'm definitely feeling those pre-trip jitters. I'm not taking a laptop so I won't be able to post as I go, but I've queued up a bunch of posts (including the long overdue ones from Scandinavia early this year). Hope everyone has an amazing holiday season, see you on the other side!

December 7, 2016

Summer in sandals

Some more summer outfits. I've pretty much been living in these sandals - I'm kind of worried that my feet have expanded from all this foot-freedom they're getting, and that my other shoes won't fit anymore...

December 4, 2016

Mushroom pasta for people who can't cook

It's only this year that I've developed a thing for mushrooms (I used to pick them out of my food). I especially like mushrooms in pasta sauce, and after YY pointed out how easy it would be to make mushroom pasta, I decided to give it a go. And it was a mistake, because it is basically crack and way too easy to make. I'll never have to buy another jar of pasta sauce again and will probably die from all this butter I'm going to be eating. I hesitate to call this a recipe because I kind of just wing it with the ingredients, but trust me, if I can do it you can too.

  • Pasta (however much you need)
  • Mushrooms (however many you want based on your preferred mushroom to pasta ratio)
  • Butter (about 2-3 tablespoons for one serving)
  • Garlic (I use crushed garlic from a jar cause I'm lazy, but you can use fresh garlic if you're motivated)
  • Lots of cheese
  • Melt some butter in a pan on medium heat (I start with two tablespoons when I'm making one serving).
  • You can start boiling the pasta in a separate pot at this point.
  • When the butter is melted, throw in a heaped teaspoon of crushed garlic.
  • When it starts making that sizzling noise, add the mushrooms and turn the heat up to medium-high.
  • If it looks like you need to, add another tablespoon of butter (but you should probably stop there).
  • When the mushrooms are cooked (it will start smelling delicious and mushroomy), turn the heat off, drain the pasta (which is usually done by this time) and add the pasta to the pan with the mushrooms.
  • Mix everything up and then add way too much cheese.
And that's it! I guess you could add cream at some point to make it a creamy pasta (we never have any cream on hand), and I think it would taste good with some spinach and chicken if you want to make it really nutritious. I should probably also try and do this with less butter...

December 1, 2016

1 month in a backpack

I'm off on my summer trip in a week, so it's time for me to wax lyrical about my packing again. I'm headed to Cuba (via a day in Mexico City), Playa del Carmen and Cancun in Mexico, Antigua in Guatemala, and then up to NYC, because I just love to torture myself with temperature extremes.

Image sources at Polyvore. Note these aren't the exact items I have.

When I need to consider packing for several seasons on one trip, I generally plan for the most contrasting weather/situations I'll be in, and then mix and match in between. This time it's the warmth and humidity in Cuba vs. really cold and possibly snowy in NYC. Packing has been a lot easier than last time, as I won't have to dress as conservatively in hot weather, and I don't have to pack smart clothes for hospital.

These worked for the last trip, so I'm packing the same. My friend is actually bringing my wool coat over from Sydney when I meet her in Cancun, which is really helpful. I know it would be more practical to get a down jacket that packs small to wear under my parka, but what can I say? I'm vain.

Skinny jeans for cooler weather, rayon drape pants for hot weather. I considered denim shorts, but I find them kind of uncomfortable and they're heavy for what they are.

Two t-shirts to wear for warm/mild weather, and one long sleeve top for NYC. I'm taking a risk here, but I'm banking on the fact that I'll be wearing my merino thermal underneath and I won't have to wash it.

A dress! The main lesson I learned from last time was that I needed better clothes for hot weather, and my smock dress is my best outfit for it. It's pretty short but neither Cuba nor Cancun call for more modest dressing, so I don't think I'll offend anyone.

The #1 enemy of light packing. I deliberated over taking any number out of four pairs: Chelsea boots, sneakers, sandals, and Doc Martens. I'm only going to take the Chelsea boots, which I'm a bit nervous about. I ruled out the sneakers because they didn't really give me that many benefits over the boots, as I'm not doing anything too active and also because they're not as waterproof. I did want to take the sandals for the beach in Mexico, but I figured flip-flops (which I always pack, if only for shared showers) would do the same job. Docs I really strongly considered taking for NYC, but they're not worth the weight/inconvenience at airport security to just wear for a quarter of the trip (I learned the hard way to not wear them in hot weather). While my Chelsea boots hold up to wet weather well, I'm a little concerned about how cold my feet are going to get. My plan right now is to wing it, and if the cold becomes unbearable, buy a pair of wool socks in New York. Fingers crossed I come back with my feet still attached!

Scarf, gloves, and hat which I'll need for New York. Even though they'd be easy to buy once I get to there, I dislike the idea of buying more winter accessories that I never even have to use in Sydney. Sunnies and watch self-explanatory.

This is probably the most brutal I've ever had to be with packing, because I want the first part of my trip (before I get my coat) to be carry-on only, and airlines flying out of Australia are pretty strict on carry-on weight (7kg). I'm actually going to be wearing the cardigan, one of the t-shirts, jeans and the boots on the plane, so it's not a lot of clothing to pack (although my bag always ends up filling up with random bits and pieces). Trying to get my liquid toiletries into a sandwich bag was even harder, I'll probably do a whole other post on that.